Ben King (Cannondale) won stage two of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on Monday having survived from the day’s escape group.
King and Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) battled it out for the stage victory having both been part of the day’s four-man break.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) brought the bunch home for third place, with stage one winner Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in fourth.
Thanks to the time bonuses picked up during the stage and the winner’s time bonus, King replaced Sagan as overall race leader. Huffman is second at eight seconds, with Sagan third at 14 seconds.
King was the main animator of the day’s break, and he was joined by Huffman, Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Giant-Alpecin) and William Barta (Axeon Hagens Berman).
On the second categorised climb of the day to Upper Big Tujunga, the break had stretched out their lead to over six minutes.
As the break navigated the final pair of category two climbs over Little Tujunga, Lunke was dropped. Barta had a mechanical issue but managed to catch back up with King and Huffman. With 24km to go, the gap was two and a half minutes.
Barta lost contact with King and Huffman on a draggy climb with 8.5km to go. At this point Direct Energie and BMC had the most riders at the front of the peloton, trying to make the catch.
Huffman and King continued to work well together and the gap was pushed out to a minute with two kilometres to go, with no chance of the peloton catching up with them.
It was left for the two leaders to fight it out for the victory. Despite tired legs from a day out front on hilly terrain, both put in a good sprint, with King just edging out Huffman.
Tuesday’s stage three holds the first chance for the general classification contenders to really show their hand, with a significant ascent to the finish in Santa Barbara County.
The 2016 Amgen Tour of California concludes on Sunday, May 22.
Amgen Tour of California 2016, stage two: South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, 148km
1. Ben King (USA) Cannondale in 3-52-09
2. Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling at same time
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 8 secs
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
7. Patrick Bevan (NZl) Cannondale
8. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
10. Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare at same time
24. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Hagens Berman at same time
130. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Wiggins at 15-30
135. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data at 15-30
General classification after stage two
1. Ben King (USA) Cannondale
2. Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling at 8 secs
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff at 14 secs
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 20 secs
5. Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 21 secs
6. William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 21 secs
7. Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Giant-Alpecin at 23 secs
8. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 24 secs
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie at 24 secs
10. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky at 24 secs
19. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Hagens Berman at 24 secs
128. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data at 15-46
135. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Wiggins at 15-46